Teen kills brown bear outside Sitka home

A nighttime photo of a pile of trash lying on a street with tipped-over trash cans in the background.
A bear tipped over this trash can near Wachusetts Avenue and Peterson Street in Sitka on Oct. 10, 2022, one of several sightings of bears or bear signs in the area over the last week. Officials say containing or storing garbage safely is the best way to prevent bears from becoming habituated. (KCAW News)

Alaska Wildlife Troopers have concluded their investigation into the shooting of a brown bear killed by a 16-year-old in a Sitka neighborhood early Wednesday morning.

Sitka police received a call shortly after midnight on Oct. 12 from a boy who reported shooting a bear outside his home on the 1400 block of Edgecumbe Drive.

According to police dispatch reports, the teen was home with an 18-year old. When the 16-year-old heard a noise, he took a .44-caliber handgun outside to investigate, was startled by the bear and fired.

The bear ran away. Sitka police officers subsequently recovered the carcass across the street, and stored it for the night in a department pickup truck.

Sitka police later issued a citation for negligent feeding of game to the teenager. The case was turned over to wildlife troopers, who investigated it as a potential defense of life and property – or DLP – shooting, which allows a resident to legally kill a bear under some circumstances. People who claim a DLP must recover the hide, skull and claws of the animal, and turn them over to the state.

KCAW spoke with trooper Kyle Ferguson, who said he investigated the case “from a wildlife perspective.” Ultimately, Ferguson did not issue any citations.

Police returned the carcass to the teen’s home in the morning. State management biologist Stephen Bethune supervised the processing of the animal, which was a sub-adult male.

KCAW - Sitka

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